Friday, 24 April 2009

The champagne will keep flowing for LVMH

Fashionista likes nothing better than to sip on cold champagne whilst leafing through the fashion glossies or dressing up for a night on the town, and so is puzzled by sceptics who question the benefits to owning both "luxury fashion" and "fine spirits and wine" brands.

Such scepticism has been raised this week amidst rumours that LVMH - owner of various luxury fashion brands (including Louis Vuitton, Donna Karan, Celine and Fendi) and the Moet Hennesy business (with a portfolio of premium brands including Dom Perignon, Moet Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Hennesy and Belvedere vodka) - may sell its Moet Hennesy business to Diageo. LVMH has so far quashed such rumours which, if true, would place Daigeo as the world's largest drinks brand ahead of French rival Pernod Ricard.

Rumour has it that Diageo - which already owns a 34% share of Moet Hennesy - is preparing a £10.6 billion bid to take over the Moet Hennesy business. Despite LVMH's confirmation that a deal is not on the cards, Diageo seems keen to press ahead, planning a £5 billion share sale to help fund any purchase offer.

Fashionista asks, with LVMH reporting an overal increase in turnover (despite, admittedly, a big drop in its wines and spirits division), what merit is there to selling a portfolio of such well known brands in the current climate when cash flow does not appear to be an immediate problem? Although this would provide LVMH with a considerable pot from which it could look to purchase another luxury fashion brand, tailoring the company's industry focus, Fashionista questions the commercial sense of such a move - and it seems as though LVMH has asked itself the same question. After all, when times are good (and Fashionista is hopeful that they will be again), surely the premium champagne will once again flow? But for now: when gambling with a weak economy, isn't it better to spread bet rather than put all chips on one industry? After all, when times are tough, people are less likely to shop and more likely to drown their sorrows - although perhaps not with Dom Perignon...